Academic assignments have long been a nightmare for students. Not only do they have to write a thesis, find supporting evidence, and convince their professors that their statement is correct, but the paper also has to be written in a formal style.
To achieve this, students usually look for examples of already written academic assignments and try to copy their writing style. Apart from being useless, this can have a detrimental effect on their writing style, which can lead to poorly written content and a bad overall experience.
Although mastering academic writing style is a lengthy process, following some simple tips can go a long way. These tips can make the difference between a badly written piece of text and a high-quality essay.
Use Proper Grammar and Standard English
Using correct grammar is important for any type of project you are working on, but this is especially true when it comes to formal essays. Using incorrect sentences, poor spelling and punctuation can lead to bad grades.
Standard English is commonly used when writing academic essays. Avoid using colloquial language and slang. Readers who speak English should be able to read your work regardless of the country they come from. Keep in mind that you are trying to convey your ideas in a scientific manner.
Another thing that is recommended is the use of technical vocabulary characteristic of the field you are writing about. Be careful not to put those words and phrases inside quotation marks as anyone with experience in that field should be familiar with their definitions.
Write as Clearly as Possible
Contractions such as “don’t” have no place in academic essays. Make sure to use full words to convey your ideas. The same goes for abbreviations. They can easily be avoided by using complete phrases (e.g. — for example, i.e. — that is, etc. — and so forth).
Another type of shortened words to look out for is acronyms and initialisms. Write the full name the first time and then follow up with acronyms every time you want to mention an individual or company again.
Wordiness is another thing to avoid. Unnecessary words can frustrate and confuse readers. Try to shorten sentences by using words instead of entire phrases.
Avoid questions and commands as much as possible. You are here to answer questions, not ask them.
When discussing implications or evaluating theories, you might sound too sure of yourself, which is something most professors dislike. To show that you are ready to accept other points of view, you can use a technique called hedging. This is done by replacing “strong” words like absolutely, undoubtedly, definitely, and certainly with likely, generally, possibly, and probably.
Once you’ve finished writing your paper, you might want to spruce it up with a nice-looking font. Avoid this as it will make your paper look less serious. Use Arial or Times New Roman only — those are professional and neat.
Proper Use of Grammar
It is an unwritten rule that all academic papers should be written in the active voice rather than passive. The active voice helps your narrative by making your opinions, arguments, and evidence sound more persuasive. It shows that you are confident and that you’ve done enough research to support your statements.
Switching tenses mid-sentence is another thing to avoid. This type of writing can confuse the reader, which is why you should stick to only one tense for the duration of the sentence.
Although there isn’t a grammatical rule about this, do not end sentences with prepositions. For some reason, most professors consider this to be incorrect. Therefore, avoid ending sentences with prepositions as that might have a bad effect on your grade.
Keep It Objective
As stated above, unless you have been clearly instructed to give your opinion or prediction on a certain topic, you are writing a scientific paper. For this reason, you need to keep your opinions, arguments, and conclusions argumentative and objective. This is done in two ways — by avoiding personal pronouns and using non-discriminatory language.
Not using personal pronouns can be a big problem if a question implies that your opinion is required. To avoid making this mistake, try saying that “studies have shown” certain results. This will help you keep an objective tone of the essay while still showing that your opinion is backed up by evidence.
To keep your thesis statement as objective as possible, you have to learn to put your emotions aside. Avoid any words that show how much you like or dislike someone or something. Instead, use facts to say why something or someone is good or bad.
Also, to sound as professional as possible, use non-discriminatory language.
A Bit About Punctuation
When doing personal writing, exclamation marks and other punctuation marks can help you express your opinion more precisely. However, since we need to be objective when it comes to academic writing, exclamation points should be avoided at all costs.
If you want to explain something in more detail, try using more commas instead of brackets and dashes. There are many rules for using these. Until you have mastered all of those rules, avoid using brackets and dashes altogether.Also, unless instructed to, refrain from using bullet points. There are some essay types that allow their usage, but it is always best to check with your instructor before deciding to use them.
These tips might seem like too much to take in at first. However, with some practice, you should gain enough experience to become a great essay writer. If mastering academic writing style is still hard for you, you can always leave it to professional writers who can do your job for you.